By George Bennett
Freshman U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, broke with most of the Democratic caucus today and voted for a largely symbolic Republican measure requiring President Barack Obama to either submit a budget that balances by 2023 or identify a year when a balanced budget will be achieved.
The measure, which the Democrat-controlled Senate is not expected to consider, passed on a 253-167 vote with Murphy and 25 other Democrats joining 227 Republicans in support. One Republican and 166 Democrats were opposed.
The three other members of Palm Beach County's congressional delegation -- Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach and Alcee Hastings of Miramar -- all voted no.
Many Democrats derided the measure, with Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., quoted in Roll Call as calling it "a gimmick wrapped in talking points inside a press release."
Murphy represents a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast district where Republicans slightly outnumber Democrats and Mitt Romney got 51.5 percent of the vote in November. Murphy's office sent out a press release headlined "Murphy votes with Republicans to demand balanced budget."
Said Murphy: "Our country is at a tipping point and it is high time that we get serious about addressing our nation's fiscal issues, which requires a bipartisan, balanced approach. I joined my Republican colleagues today in voting for this bill and demanding that we put a plan in place that leads to a balanced budget. Although I wish the bill had been amending to ensure a balanced approach is taken to reach a balanced budget, this is still an important step in getting our fiscal house in order."
Before the final vote, Murphy joined Democrats in supporting a failed amendment specifying that efforts to balance the budget "take a balanced, bipartisan approach to deficit reduction that protects the middle class and seniors."